Greece’s new online gambling licenses to be made available in October

greece-online-gambling-licensesGreece is finally moving ahead with its plans to implement a new licensing regime for online gambling operators.

On Sept. 5, Greek Deputy Finance Minister Trifon Alexiadis informed legislators that the relevant provisions of the new online gambling licensing rules had been finalized and would be made public “in a maximum of one month.” Gambling Compliance subsequently reported that a public tender for online licenses would open in October.

Alexiadis said the Greek government had learned a lot from its failed experiment of issuing 24 ‘temporary’ online gambling licenses in 2011. These licenses were suspended the following year as the government sought to boost the value of Greek betting monopoly OPAP ahead of the government’s sale of its one-third stake in the company.

Alexiadis underscored the desire of the government to curtail the activities of online gambling companies who “avoid paying huge amounts of taxes, simply because they are established in other countries.” Alexiadis said the government would ensure that this “lawlessness” would end.

In a plenary session of legislators, opposition MP Demetrius Kammenou claimed that the Hellenic Gaming Commission (EEEP) had queried the 24 temporary operators regarding their Greek operations. Kammenou said EEEP had received responses from 21 operators that indicated total Greek turnover of €1.9b and revenue of €116.2m in 2015.

Alexiadis said the new regime would include stricter vetting of how much betting operators are earning from their Greek punters, noting that there were discrepancies between what the temporary operators reported as their Greek revenue versus what these same companies reported in other public documents.

Alexiadis said the new regime would include “reporting to the competent Greek authorities by foreign payment providers who are active in Greece” so that “financial transactions in conducting games of chance via the internet between Greek players and foreign companies can be more easily detected.”

EEEP has also been ramping up its efforts to prevent unauthorized online gambling sites from accessing the Greek market. Since the start of the year, the number of sites on EEEP’s blacklist has nearly doubled to 847 as of August.

It remains to be seen how many operators will apply for the new Greek licenses, considering the punitive tax rate of 35% of gambling revenue. OPAP, which continues to insist that it holds a monopoly on online betting, reported a 36% fall in Q2 profit but said profits would have risen 2% were it not for the new tax.